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Take a Tour

Join one of our knowledgeable docents for a tour--either virtual or in-person--featuring our historic building and rich collections. We offer public tours as well as field trip opportunities for schools and private tours for groups of all kinds.

Check the events calendar for upcoming tours.

ART AND ARCHITECTURE TOURS

$2 plus admission
Open to the public
Reservations required

Check the events calendar for upcoming tours.

Join a Boston Athenæum docent for a tour focused on the history of the Athenæum, its iconic building, and its remarkable collections. Whether you are visiting for the first time or a member who frequents the building, the stories are sure to fascinate you as you walk through the historic library.

Private tours are available for groups of 5 people or more.

 

UP CLOSE TOURS

Free with admission
Reservations requested

Check the events calendar for upcoming tours.

Up Close Tours take place on the Athenæum's first floor and encourage visitors to look closely at materials from the Athenæum’s rich collections and consider them within a particular context.

Artist-Reporter Allan Rohan Crite

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Phoebe Morse for an introduction to the life and work of Allan Rohan Crite. The tour will discuss how Crite's use of vivid colors, painterly lines, and attention on recognizable places and people create dynamic views of everyday life. Explore several of Crite's paintings and drawings to discover how his images of his neighbors in Boston's predominantly Black South End and Roxbury neighborhoods in the 1930s and 1940s earned him national recognition and a reputation as an astute biographer.

Athena at the Athenæum

"My interest in Athena has been enhanced and now warrants further study."

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Clive Martin for a discussion of the Goddess of Wisdom's presence in our library and her place in the ancient world, beginning with the towering sculpture of Athena and the monumental head of Zeus that grace the Athenæum's lobby.

Carvings and Quandaries

"Made me want to revisit the Athenæum, specifically to focus on the sculptures."
"Fascinating topic; excellent and lively presentation, well researched, and presented with a charming sense of humor."

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Carolyn Hilles-Pilant for an exploration of the life and work of Horatio Greenough and Thomas Crawford, two American Neoclassical sculptors who expatriated to Italy in the early nineteenth century. The politics and popular aesthetics of their day provide a context for understanding the importance of these artists to their time, as well as ours. The tour will spotlight three sculptures in the Athenæum's collections: Venus Vitrix and Judgement of Paris by Greenough and Adam and Eve by Crawford. When given in-person, Carolyn will also discuss the life and work of William Wetmore Story.

Designing Women

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Lynn Smiledge as she explores the lives and cultural contributions of three leading voices of Boston’s art world: Sarah Wyman Whitman, Nancy Graves Cabot, and Polly Thayer Starr. This trio of distinguished women is represented in works displayed on the Athenæum’s first floor.

Two Giants

Upon stepping into the lobby of the Athenæum, visitors are welcomed by two giant portraits depicting two giants of American history: US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall and statesman and orator Daniel Webster. Preeminent nineteenth-century portraitist Chester Harding, whose home and studio were next door to the Athenæum, completed both Grand Manner paintings. Join Docent Clive Martin as he introduces you to the artist and his subjects, and shares the story of how these impressive paintings came to be at the Athenæum.

Two Presidents and a Ghost

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Maureen Marcucci as she leads a discussion around the portraits and lives of Samuel Eliot, Thomas Handasyd Perkins, and Reverend Thaddeus Mason Harris, and their roles as leaders who have impacted the history of the Boston Athenæum.

 

VIRTUAL ART AND ARCHITECTURE TOURS 

Free and open to the public
Reservations required

Check the events calendar for upcoming tours.

"I felt as though I was transported to the center of Boston for that tour. It was so perfect! I forgot I was sitting at my desk looking at my 19" computer screen--I was IN the building!!"

Join a BA docent for a virtual tour of the library's historic landmark building, including inspiring views of its reading rooms and an introduction to its history and remarkable collections. Whether you are new to the Athenæum or a member who frequents the building, the stories are sure to fascinate you.

 

VIRTUAL UP CLOSE TOURS

Free and open to the public
Reservations required

Check the events calendar for upcoming tours.

Up Close Tours encourage visitors to look closely at materials from the Athenæum’s rich collections and consider them within a particular context.

Artist-Reporter Allan Rohan Crite

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Phoebe Morse for an introduction to the life and work of Allan Rohan Crite. The tour will discuss how Crite's use of vivid colors, painterly lines, and attention on recognizable places and people create dynamic views of everyday life. Explore several of Crite's paintings and drawings to discover how his images of his neighbors in Boston's predominantly Black South End and Roxbury neighborhoods in the 1930s and 1940s earned him national recognition and a reputation as an astute biographer.

Athena at the Athenæum

"My interest in Athena has been enhanced and now warrants further study."

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Clive Martin for a discussion of the Goddess of Wisdom's presence in our library and her place in the ancient world, beginning with the towering sculpture of Athena and the monumental head of Zeus that grace the Athenæum's lobby.

Carvings and Quandaries

"Made me want to revisit the Athenæum, specifically to focus on the sculptures."
"Fascinating topic; excellent and lively presentation, well researched, and presented with a charming sense of humor."

Join Boston Athenæum Docent Carolyn Hilles-Pilant for an exploration of the life and work of Horatio Greenough and Thomas Crawford, two American Neoclassical sculptors who expatriated to Italy in the early nineteenth century. The politics and popular aesthetics of their day provide a context for understanding the importance of these artists to their time, as well as ours. The tour will spotlight three sculptures in the Athenæum's collections: Venus Vitrix and Judgement of Paris by Greenough and Adam and Eve by Crawford. When given in-person, Carolyn will also discuss the life and work of William Wetmore Story.

Two Giants

Upon stepping into the lobby of the Athenæum, visitors are welcomed by two giant portraits depicting two giants of American history: US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall and statesman and orator Daniel Webster. Preeminent nineteenth-century portraitist Chester Harding, whose home and studio were next door to the Athenæum, completed both Grand Manner paintings. Join Docent Clive Martin as he introduces you to the artist and his subjects, and shares the story of how these impressive paintings came to be at the Athenæum.

 

FIELD TRIPS

Starting at $5 per person
Reservations required

We are pleased to offer both virtual  and on-site class visits for primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools. Your field trip may include a tour of the Athenæum's historic landmark building, a live presentation of materials from special collections, or both. We will work with you to tailor an experience to your group's specific needs, including selecting materials from special collections and designing activities or guiding questions for studying the materials.

Contact Director of Education Hannah Weisman at education@bostonathenaeum.org or 617-720-7617 to schedule your visit.

 

GROUP TOURS

Starting at $10 per person
Reservations required

We are pleased to offer both virtual and on-site private tours of the library to groups of all kinds. Your group visit may include a tour of the Athenæum's historic landmark building, a live presentation of materials from special collections, or both. We will work with you to tailor an experience to your group's specific needs.

Contact Director of Education Hannah Weisman at education@bostonathenaeum.org or 617-720-7617 to schedule your visit.

 

CCAuto-generated captions are available for all virtual tours. To request other accommodations for any virtual or on-site tour or group visit, contact Director of Education Hannah Weisman at weisman@bostonathenaeum.org or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the program.